We are often a lot like Adam and Eve in the Garden when they hid from God. They had sinned against Him. They had let Him down. They failed. They disobeyed, so they tried to hide. I guess I shouldn’t speak for you by saying we — but I hide. I try to avoid God. I neglect my “quiet time,” like if I open up the Bible it would be then He would see my sin or if I pray then He will know. So I hide, but He already knows.
Yet I’m ashamed, and I’m also afraid He is done with me.
Feelings like that always draws my heart to the parable of The Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-31. I hope at those times in your life, you are drawn to this story. It is of a father with two sons. The youngest son came to the father and asked for his inheritance early. This was extremely dishonoring, but the father gave the boy what he wanted. The son then went to a distant country and squandered all the money in “wild living”. He eventually finds himself taking care of pigs and eating their slop. At this low point he remembers his father, and he goes back to him. He hoped to be just treated like a servant, but the father had other plans. The father saw his son a long way off, and ran to him. He restored his son and threw a party of celebration. The prodigal son was given a robe, a ring, and sandals signifying his restoration.
A beautiful story and a familiar story.
But one that has been mismarketed. The title given to the story misses the purpose of Jesus’ illustrative teaching. Yes, it does tell of a prodigal son, but Jesus told the tale to teach the love of God the Father.
Jesus’ point in the parable is to say just how the father had been wronged, failed, and sinned against; but, he still loved his son. And if his son would return, even though the grievance was hideous, the son would be embraced, forgiven, and restored. And that is how God loves. God loves just like the Father in this story.
Even though we have sinned against God, He wants us to come back and be restored. He’s watching with the robe ready and a roast in the crock-pot.
Beautiful, isn’t it? To know that is our God — the loving Father.
That alone should encourage you today, but my thought is — do you really think the prodigal son then became the perfect son?
We would be foolish to think so. We would be naïve to think that the youngest son never failed the father again. He probably returned to some old habits. Blew some more money. Fell back into some wild living. And when he did, what did the Father do?
Do you think the Father got the robe and ring back out? Did he celebrate the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or more return of his son?
Well, I believe we have been led to think that he didn’t. That this was a one time supernatural love. But remember the father in this story represents God, and I do not believe God just forgives and restores us once.
For one Scripture teaches that we are to forgive others continuously, and that response by us is meant to display God’s love. Therefore, God would do the same. And I know from personal experience God keeps returning to that upstairs balcony, pulling out his binoculars, looking for me in the distance. Then putting on his Nikes and running to embrace me.
He doesn’t quit.
That’s God. The loving Father after the first offence. The loving Father after the second. The third. The fourth, and so on.
So, don’t hide from the Lord. Don’t think you have to keep eating the pig slop. Go home.
And if you think you have already used your “get out of jail free card” with God, then you are wrong. He is watching. The robe is pressed, the ring is shined, and the sandals are new — come home.